“Treats”, Sleigh Bells‘ debut album was really impressive and different. The duo of producer Derek Miller and front woman Alexis Krauss were able to match aggressive tracks with sing-songy melodies and avoid sounding like a complete mess. On their recently released sophomore album “Reign of Terror”, the Bells give fans more of the same, but making the sound a lot more balanced out and surprisingly even more enjoyable.
While “Terror” keeps the elements that made “Treats” so good, the duo also expounds on that established sound. Maintaining that loud Rock-like edge throughout, they work this time at extending their song lengths and filling them with full verses and hooks unlike the somewhat “chanty” nature of most of their “Treats” songs. The beauty those is that they didn’t compromise one thing for another, they found a groove where everything works perfectly together. The amazing thing to me is that tone is still very hard edged, in fact I would venture to say maybe even bigger and louder than the previous album with huge guitar sounds. And while the sounds got bigger, so did the melodies which give a very Pop/R&B feel a la Beyonce or Rihanna while not getting completely drowned out by the big synths.
First single “Comeback Kid” is a great example of how the Bells managed to make things work. It is a true “rock out!” song, but the melodic hook takes it down to a more palatable and commercial offering. The same can be said for tracks like “Born To Lose” “Leader of the Pack” and “Never Say Die” which mix both worlds masterfully and make it something totally fresh and new. Another contrast from the debut album to the new material is that the group shows more of their mellow side with tracks like the stunning “End of the Line” “Road to Hell” and “You Lost Me”. Very laid back sounds with soothing vocals, but still utilizing the noise-pop edge production wise.
“Reign of Terror” is definitely the group sticking to their sound, and it isn’t drastically different from “Treats” tonally, but clear improvements were made to make the follow up a more balanced-out, solid and serious effort and gives us something to look forward to from the duo.
4.5 of 5
Best: End of the Line, Road to Hell, Born to Lose